Thursday, July 21, 2011

Regulating Information Distribution with Information Rights Management Systems

The computer has made the distribution of information easier than ever before. It has also made the infringement of copyrights a breeze and therefore there is the need for an information rights management (IRM) system to regulate how information is securely distributed and used to ensure the copyright owners benefit the most from income for their intellectual property. Information rights management is usually the term applied to the control of documents whereas digital rights management (DRM) is usually the term applied to the control of many types of digitized content such as music, movies, computer software, etc.

Information rights management enables copyright owners to regulate the use of their works in different ways. In the case of a document, you can determine who reads it and for how long it can be read. For subscription sales of your articles, you can determine the start and end calendar dates or a number of days since the document was first viewed. In cases of printing, you can determine if this can be done and if so, how many copies can be made. Photocopying of printed works can be discouraged by the use of dynamic watermarks displaying user details such as their name and email address. The use of document sharing can be controlled by confining documents to one computer and determining the number of users allowed to view the content.

Most people however reach out for information right management systems to help curb copying of their documents. With IRM you can regulate whether one can make copies for other parties to use, if certain parts of your work can be copied, and prevent the use of screen dumps. Using passwords as a protection mechanism has been deemed as useless since they can be easily shared or broken with password cracking software; modern IRM systems use public key technology of varying degrees to adequately safeguard copyrights.

Often with information right management systems, the decryption keys are retained on a licensing server. To open a protected document, you have to connect to a particular server which will determine if you are an authorized user based. Upon approval the decryption key will be transferred to your local computer and the document will be decrypted. Many IRM systems hold decryption keys within a secure keystore that is locked to an individual computer using encryption technology. Many document owners selling content use information rights management systems alongside payment systems to ensure that they receive their royalties automatically.

Information rights management with the help of cryptography has largely been successful so far. Cryptography is used to help enforce the document controls. With continuous innovation and improvement, the sky is the limit in upholding media copyrights.


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